Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Barriers to Self-Sufficiency

New York State’s public assistance programs are overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), and are administered by local social services districts (57 counties and New York City). The local districts are expected to refer public assistance recipients to the services they need to overcome their barriers to self-sufficiency. If these barriers are not identified by the local districts and alleviated through appropriate services (e.g., job training, child day care, and treatment for disabling conditions such as mental illness), the recipients are less likely to attain self-sufficiency and more likely to need the ongoing support of public assistance programs. We examined the practices used by local districts to identify and alleviate public assistance recipients’ barriers to self-sufficiency.

We found that most local districts have a formal process for identifying recipients’ barriers to self-sufficiency. However, the process is not always as thorough as it could be, and even when barriers are identified, services may not be provided to alleviate the barriers. We also found that, due to a lack of data on the rate of incidence for particular types of barriers to self-sufficiency, the services available in a local district may not always match the needs of the recipients in the district. We recommended that OTDA work with the local districts to develop an automated process for accumulating and maintaining information about the incidence of particular kinds of barriers to self-sufficiency in each local district. We also recommended that OTDA work with the local districts to improve the practices used in identifying and alleviating recipients’ barriers to self-sufficiency.

For a complete copy of Report 2003-S-15 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.